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Sudan presents new conditions for rejoining Ethiopia dam talks

January 13, 2021 at 10:15 am

Sudanese Minister of Irrigation and Water Resources Yasser Abbas speaks during a press conference on December 02, 2020, Khartoum, Sudan [Mahmoud Hjaj/Anadolu Agency]

Sudanese Foreign Minister Omar Gamar Eddine Ismail confirmed that “the new conditions for returning to the Renaissance Dam negotiations to conduct meaningful talks on the issue were presented to the State of South Africa,” given that South Africa presides over the current session of the African Union Assembly.

After meeting with the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah Al-Burhan and the Minister of Irrigation, Yasser Abbas, Ismail expressed his hope that the new session of the African Union Assembly scheduled for February “will present another opportunity to achieve what Sudan aspires to, otherwise, his country will have different options regarding this file. ”

Sudanese Irrigation Minister Yasser Abbas stressed that “Sudan’s position is based on the necessity of giving the African Union the role of a facilitator via its appointed experts.”

He pointed out that “the negotiations conducted in the last period were not effective, because they were taking place directly between the three concerned countries, whose positions diverged from the beginning.”

He also stated that “Sudan welcomes the initial draft agreement prepared by the experts,” demanding “a clear reference for the next step,” by suggesting that “the involved states can make their observations on the draft in bilateral meetings with experts so that they can prepare the second draft.”

The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation in South Africa, Naledi Pandor, announced that the file of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam negotiations would be submitted to the President of South Africa, who chairs the current session of the African Union Assembly.

READ: Sudan harmed most by Ethiopia Nile dam conflict

Ethiopia is building a $5 billion dam near the border with Sudan it says will provide the country with much-needed electricity and economic regeneration. Egypt believes it will restrict its access to Nile waters.

Egypt is almost entirely dependent on Nile water, receiving around 55.5 million cubic metres a year from the river, and believes that filling the dam will affect the water it needs for drinking, agriculture and electricity.

Cairo wants Ethiopia to guarantee Egypt will receive 40 billion cubic metres or more of water from the Nile. Ethiopian Irrigation Minister Seleshi Bekele said Egypt has abandoned this demand, but Egypt insists it hasn’t and issued a statement to this effect.

There is also an unresolved issue over how fast the dam will be filled, with Egypt fearing if it is filled too quickly, it could affect the electricity generated by the Aswan High Dam.